Internship Basics

Internships are a great way to gain experience while you’re in college online or immediately after graduation. Depending on the field you are entering, as well as your location, you may have the benefit of choosing between a paid or unpaid internship. While choosing a paid internship may seem like a no-brainer, there are benefits to unpaid internships too. Let’s compare the two:

Paid Internships

Advantages

Disadvantages

Monetary compensation

Competitive because few internships are paid

Experience in your field

Paid internships are rare

Networking opportunities

Low wage (usually minimum wage)

Paid internships are typically found at large corporations and brand-name businesses

May not get hands-on experience

Possible employment opportunity

 

Unpaid Internships

Advantages

Disadvantages

Experience in your field

No pay (some internships may give you a travel stipend)

Networking opportunities

 

Given hands-on experience as compensation

 

Possible employment opportunity

 

Less competition because unpaid internships are more common

 

The chance to internship at a smaller organization

 

In general, you want to base your choice on the experience, not just the pay. Finding an internship where you will be able to gain hands-on experience at a company you can learn a lot from will make it work your while, regardless of whether you are paid. Consider the following when choosing your internship:

Size of the company

If the company is large, you may be able to meet a lot of people in your industry. On the other hand, you may not be able to get as much hands-on experience as you’d like. At a smaller company you will be able to see all of the daily operations under one roof, but you may not be paid very much (if at all) for your work.

Length of internship

If your internship is just a few weeks long, than having no pay may not be so bad. On the other hand, if your internship will last the entire summer and will require full-time hours you may not be able to afford having no pay for that time.

Commute

Will you have to commute for your internship? If so, calculate how much it will cost you. If you’ll be traveling for 20 minutes or more, you may want to consider asking for a travel stipend to help pay for your commute.

Weigh the pros and cons of every internship opportunity, and make sure the experience will work for you long after you graduate college.

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